No matter how hard one might try echo chambers and filter bubbles that social media has filtered us and our information into aren’t going anywhere. The revelation that Facebook data collection could have been used by illicit actors to target an election is only a part of the problem. The willful consent to share our own information, political views, and cherry-picked sources of news is the far larger problem and has led to mass polarization and tribalism in online communities.
The polarization, the spread of misinformation, and echo chambers are all a result of confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is the inherent human tendency to seek information that proves our pre-existing beliefs and ignore information that proves the contrary. Psychologists have been conducting studies on confirmation bias since the early 1970s. The studies show that people will believe anything if it confirms what they already think, even when given hard evidence that they are wrong.
Hacking confirmation bias is easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Practicing mindfulness, showing empathy, fact-checking, and looking for evidence that disconfirms your own beliefs are the key ways to beat it.
Learn more about confirmation bias with the infographic below, provided by PsychDegrees.org.